- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 9, 2008

POLITICS

McCain rejects ethanol subsidies

DES MOINES, Iowa | Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain didn’t mince words Friday at the Iowa State Fair, telling corn producers he didn’t want to subsidize their ethanol but was eager to help market farm products around the world.

“My friends, we will disagree on a specific issue and that’s healthy,” Mr. McCain said as he stood near bales of straw at one of the nation’s top farming showcases. “I believe in renewable fuels. I don’t believe in ethanol subsidies, but I believe in renewable fuels.”

Mr. McCain has never been shy about speaking against subsidizing ethanol when he is in farm country, though that stand helped to make him unpopular enough in Iowa that he skipped participating in its leadoff presidential caucuses in 2000 and again in 2008.

In a brief speech at the fairgrounds - where he viewed a 1,253-pound boar named Freight Train and looked for pork chop on a stick, a fair delicacy - Mr. McCain pledged to negotiate trade deals favorable to farm commodities, saying a free-trade deal with South Korea could boost profits by $10 a hog.

“My mission and my job as president of the United States will be to make sure every market in the world is open to your products,” he said.

SENATE

Senator’s aide starts session

What happens if the Senate is supposed to meet and there aren’t any senators around?

The show must go on, as the chamber demonstrated Friday morning, even if a staff aide has to wield the gavel.

Nancy Erickson, a Democratic aide who serves as secretary of the Senate, stood in Friday for a tardy Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat.

It turns out that Senate rules provide for such contingencies, however rare they may be. The secretary of the Senate is an officer elected by the full Senate to help manage the place and has the right under the rules to preside when there are no senators available.

Friday’s Senate meeting was one of a spate of pro forma sessions designed to block President Bush from making so-called recess appointments of administration officials without requiring Senate confirmation.

A sheepish Mrs. Lincoln, who said she was victim of a slow-running clock, turned up minutes after the 11 a.m. session was to begin.

“My clock said five ‘til,” she said.

Friday’s session lasted less than 30 seconds. The Senate will next meet Tuesday afternoon.

PENTAGON

System eyed to turn garbage into energy

The U.S. Air Force is researching a portable waste-to-energy system.

If the scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate are successful, they will be able to create energy independently at each military base anywhere in the world, the Department of Defense announced.

Technicians have built a transportable furnace that shreds and burns solid waste and waste oils and contaminated fuels. The prototype is transported on a 48-foot flatbed truck and is about 8 feet tall.

So far, the system has gone through about 15 rounds of testing and is entering its second phase, the Defense Department said. Once complete, it is expected the machine will act like a mini power plant and will be able to burn up to 500 pounds of waste per hour.

POLITICS

Ad paints Obama as tax raiser

The presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain released a new TV ad for battleground states that contends Sen. Barack Obama would raise taxes on the middle class as well as families, small businesses and the elderly.

It repeats the Republican campaign’s assertion that Mr. Obama would raise taxes on those making $42,000 a year, a figure linked to allowing the Bush administration’s tax cuts to expire in 2010. Mr. Obama maintains that his budget plan is aimed at raising taxes only on those making more than $200,000 a year individually and $250,000 a year as a couple.

The Obama campaign called the new McCain spot “a lie” and “part of the old, tired politics of a party in Washington that has run out of ideas and run out of steam.”

A new radio ad aimed at Spanish-speaking voters repeats many of the same charges in the TV spot and states: “It’s not that you’re not ready. Barack Obama is not ready yet. Because when it comes to the economy, experience matters, and he just doesn’t have it. He says he’ll give you change, but that’s what he’ll leave you with.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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