- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CONGRESS

Kerry defeats primary challenger

Sen. John Kerry has fended off his first Democratic challenger in nearly a quarter century, handily defeating political newcomer Ed O’Reilly.

Mr. O’Reilly tried to make Mr. Kerry’s 2003 vote authorizing President Bush to launch military action against Iraq a central issue in Tuesday’s primary.

But the attorney from Gloucester was unable to gain traction against Mr. Kerry, who has held his Senate seat since 1984 and was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee just four years ago.

Mr. Kerry will face Republican Jeff Beatty in the November election.

POLITICS

Feminists cheer Obama, boo Palin

Feminist groups endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president Tuesday and expressed disdain for Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, who is pro-life on the abortion issue.

“We don’t think it’s much to break a glass ceiling for one woman and leave millions of women behind,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Miss Smeal was among leaders from six organizations that announced their endorsement of the Democratic presidential nominee at a news conference.

Mr. Obama also won the support of the National Organization for Women, Business and Professional Women/USA, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Congress of Black Women and the Women’s Information Network.

SHOOTINGS

Blackwater lawyers lobby prosecutors

Defense attorneys for Blackwater Worldwide are trying to head off Justice Department charges against bodyguards involved in the deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians exactly one year ago.

Three people close to the investigation say that in a meeting with prosecutors Tuesday, Blackwater’s legal team outlined legal and factual reasons why the Justice Department would lose at trial if the guards are indicted.

Prosecutors agreed to take Blackwater’s argument into consideration, but did not indicate whether they would continue to pursue charges or drop the case.

The three people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment.

For months, a federal grand jury has been investigating the fatal shooting of the civilians, including several young children, in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square on Sept. 16, 2007. As few as three bodyguards have been targeted for prosecution, according to lawyers close to the case.

CAMPAIGN

Streisand performs at Obama fundraiser

DENVER | How does Sen. Barack Obama lure wealthy donors to a big-money fundraiser in Hollywood?

Bring in Barbra Streisand as the headline performer.

The Oscar-winning singer and actress was to perform Tuesday night on Mr. Obama’s behalf in Beverly Hills. It was to be a two-step evening with a reception and dinner costing $28,500 a person followed by a later event featuring Mrs. Streisand at $2,500 a ticket.

Mr. Obama was flying to Los Angeles after an appearance Tuesday morning in a Denver suburb.

POLITICS

Democrats file suit in dispute

LANSING, Mich. | Democrats in Michigan are trying to block what they call a Republican effort to deny voting rights to people facing foreclosure.

Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several voters on Tuesday filed for an injunction to prohibit the Republicans from challenging Michigan voters whose homes are on foreclosure lists. Republicans say they are doing no such thing.

Macomb County Republican Party Chairman James Carabelli denied last week that he had told a writer for the liberal Web site MichiganMessenger.com that he planned to make sure no one on a list of foreclosed homes voted in his county. “The story is not true,” he said.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer said Republicans have tried in the past to discourage Democratic voters at polling stations and, “I simply do not believe his denial. This fits the pattern we’ve seen here in Michigan.”

Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer said any “lose your home, lose your vote” tactic creates an atmosphere of intimidation that could drive voters from the polls. State Republicans said the accusation makes no sense because the lists don’t give them information on where a voter lives.

FDA

Panel finds chemical is safe

With scientists at odds about the risks of a chemical found in plastic baby bottles, metal cans and other food packaging, the government on Tuesday gave consumers some tips on how to reduce their exposure to BPA even as it said the substance is safe.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee met as a major study linked bisphenol A to possible risks of heart disease and diabetes. The scientific debate could drag on for years.

“Right now, our tentative conclusion is that it’s safe, so we’re not recommending any change in habits,” said Laura Tarantino, head of the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety. But she acknowledged, “there are a number of things people can do to lower their exposure.”

For example, consumers can avoid plastic containers imprinted with the recycling number “7,” as many of those contain BPA. Or, the spokeswoman said, they can avoid warming food in such containers, as heat helps to release the chemical.

FDA

U.S. bans drugs from firm in India

The government closed U.S. borders Tuesday to more than 30 generic drugs, including popular antibiotics and cholesterol medicines, made by India’s biggest pharmaceutical company, citing poor quality in two of its factories.

The Food and Drug Administration’s move doesn’t end U.S. sales by Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.

Instead, it blocks imports of generic drugs, including generic versions of the antibiotic Cipro and cholesterol pill Zocor, as well as pharmaceutical ingredients made at two suspect plants.

FDA inspections earlier this year found violations that could lead to contamination, allergic reactions and other problems, and the company hasn’t taken proper steps to correct them, said Deborah Autor, director of FDA’s compliance office.

Also, the FDA said it won’t approve any new products for sale by Ranbaxy until the manufacturing violations are corrected.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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