- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HEALTH

AMA backs bill to ban trans fats

The American Medical Association on Monday threw its weight behind legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide.

The group, which represents about 240,000 doctors and medical students, said it would move away from a previous, gentler position that advised people to reduce their use and move to healthier fats and oils instead.

“Trans fats have been proven to raise [low-density lipoprotein], the bad cholesterol, while lowering [high-density lipoprotein], the good cholesterol, which significantly increases the risk for heart disease,” said Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree, an AMA board member.

The group, meeting in Orlando, Fla., said replacing trans fats would prevent up to 100,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S.

FIRST LADY TO BE

Michelle Obama tours D.C. schools

Michelle Obama visited at least two well-known private schools in Washington on Monday as she and President-elect Barack Obama prepare to move their two young daughters to the White House in January.

The soon-to-be first lady toured Georgetown Day School in the morning and Sidwell Friends School in the afternoon. In between, she spent about two hours at the White House with first lady Laura Bush. Their husbands met privately in the Oval Office.

Mrs. Obama flew from Chicago to Washington and back separately from her husband, who did not visit the schools. It was not clear whether the Obamas will look at other schools, and their staff provided no details.

The Obamas’ children, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, attend a private school in Chicago.

CABINET SECRETARY

Hillary’s ex-aide considers offer

NEW YORK | Democratic officials said President-elect Barack Obama’s transition aides have approached Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former campaign manager about taking a senior White House post.

These officials said Patti Solis Doyle is considering taking the job, although she worries about the effect it would have on her two young children. She was contacted about possibly becoming Cabinet secretary, a job that involves coordinating the efforts of the White House and Cabinet-level agencies.

The officials who described the developments did so on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to disclose them.

Mrs. Doyle has worked for Mrs. Clinton in a number of capacities, first in the White House and most recently when she made her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

NASA

NASA can’t reach Mars lander

LOS ANGELES | NASA scientists said Monday they could no longer communicate with the Phoenix Mars Lander and were calling an effective end to its five-month-plus mission on the Red Planet.

Mission engineers last received a signal from the lander on Nov. 2, the space agency said.

As anticipated, the seasonal decline in sunshine at the space probe’s polar landing site is providing too little sunlight to recharge the lander’s batteries, a situation that occurred three weeks earlier than expected because of dust storms, NASA said.

NASA said the project team would keep listening for signals from the lander over the next few weeks in hopes it manages to revive itself and “phones home,” but engineers think that is unlikely due to worsening weather on Mars.

Launched in August 2007, the spacecraft landed on Mars in late May. It has since recorded snowfall, scraped up bits of ice and found that Martian dust chemically resembled seawater on Earth, adding to evidence that liquid water capable perhaps of supporting life once flowed on the planet’s surface.

EVERGLADES

Everglades land buy revised

Florida and U.S. Sugar have scaled back a proposed $1.75 billion land deal meant to boost Everglades restoration, significantly lowering the price tag and allowing the company to keep its sugar mill, two sources familiar with a tentative agreement between the company and the state told the Associated Press on Monday.

The revisions to the tentative deal for a territory about the size of the city of Chicago would mean the state will not buy the company’s high-tech mill, railroad lines and citrus processing plant, said the sources. However, the overall acreage the state plans to buy wouldn’t be greatly reduced.

They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details before Gov. Charlie Crist’s scheduled announcement of the revised proposal on Tuesday.

Under the initial proposal, U.S. Sugar was set to go out of business after six years once the deal was signed.

Now it’s not clear how long the land will remain in agriculture since the new proposal calls for farming to be phased out over time as restoration projects are designed. That could mean the company, which has about 1,700 employees, will remain in business longer.

INTERNET

Senator tackles inaugural scalpers

The senator overseeing Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony said Monday she’s writing to Internet sites such as eBay asking them not to sell scalped inauguration tickets.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, also said she’s crafting a bill that would make a federal crime of selling tickets to the historic event Jan. 20.

Mrs. Feinstein, who chairs the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said she foresees overwhelming demand for the 240,000 available tickets and has heard reports they may be sold for as much as $40,000 online.

The tickets are supposed to be free to the public and distributed through congressional offices.

Lawmakers’ offices won’t get the tickets until shortly before the inauguration, to try to prevent scalping. In-person pickup will be required.

SECURITY

U.S. to expand airport family lanes

Airports across the country will have designated security lanes for families to move through preflight inspections at their own pace, just in time for the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

The Transportation Security Administration is expanding its family lanes to every security checkpoint in the country by Nov. 20. The popular lanes, which have been tested at 48 airports, provide a space for families and passengers who don’t travel very often to move through security at their own pace.

People who carry prohibited items for medical needs - such as cough syrup, insulin, contact lens solution and breast milk or baby formula - will also be directed to the family lanes, the TSA said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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