- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2009


Waxman enters hospital for tests

A powerful Democratic House committee chairman with a central role in President Obama’s climate and health care legislation remained in the hospital in his home state of California on Wednesday, a day after fainting in his office.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, 69, was not feeling well Tuesday and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for “routine testing,” spokeswoman Karen Lightfoot said.

The California Democrat last week finished steering climate change legislation through a close vote in the House. He had been gearing up to tackle health care later in the summer.

“Chairman Waxman did not feel well and fainted in his office,” his office said. “He is undergoing evaluation at Cedars-Sinai. He is feeling fine today and is in good spirits.”


GOP lawmaker tells Sanford to resign

COLUMBIA, S.C. | Rep. J. Gresham Barrett has become the first South Carolina congressman to call for Gov. Mark Sanford to resign, saying people lost confidence in him after his extramarital affair was revealed.

The Republican lawmaker said he called the governor Wednesday and told him it would be best for him to quit. Mr. Barrett said he concluded Mr. Sanford can no longer be the effective leader the state needs as South Carolina’s unemployment rate tops 12 percent.

Mr. Barrett joins several fellow Republicans - including more than half of the 27 Republicans in the state Senate - who have asked for the governor’s resignation after he revealed new details this week about his affair with an Argentine woman and improper contacts with other women.

Mr. Barrett is running for governor next year. Mr. Sanford cannot run again because of term limits.


CIA report still a hot potato

The Justice Department is again delaying the release of an internal CIA report on the agency’s secret detention and interrogation program during the George W. Bush administration.

The report had been expected to be made public two weeks ago but was held back over debates about how much of it should be censored. The government published a version of the report in 2008, but its contents were almost entirely blacked out.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that the report, expected to be made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, may not be released this week.

The report was written in 2004 by the CIA’s inspector general.

The review questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation methods employed by CIA interrogators, such as waterboarding. That’s according to references to the report contained in Bush-era Justice Department memos that were declassified this spring.


U.S. begins audits in hunt for illegals

The Obama administration launched investigations of hundreds of businesses across the country Wednesday as part of its strategy to focus immigration enforcement on the employers who hire undocumented workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun notifying businesses of plans to audit I-9 forms - employment eligibility documents that employers fill out for every worker - the agency told members of Congress via e-mail Wednesday.

Immigration officers served “Notices of Inspection” to 652 businesses, the Homeland Security Department said. By comparison, 503 such notices were issued to businesses last year, the agency said. Businesses were chosen for inspections based on leads and other investigative work, ICE said.

Employers are required to keep the I-9 forms on file and must check the authenticity of documents provided by employees. The Homeland Security Department said it would not release the names or locations of the businesses that are being audited because of the ongoing investigations.


Two stop-smoking drugs get warnings

NEW YORK | The Food and Drug Administration will require two smoking-cessation drugs, Chantix and Zyban, to carry the agency’s strongest safety warning over side effects including depression and suicidal thoughts.

The new requirement, called a “black box” warning, is based on reports of people experiencing unusual changes in behavior, becoming depressed, or having suicidal thoughts while taking the drugs.

The antidepressant Wellbutrin, which has the same active ingredient as GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s Zyban, already carries such a warning.

The FDA is also requiring an additional study on Chantix and Zyban to determine the extent of the side effects. Pfizer Inc., which makes Chantix, said it is still discussing the potential study design with the FDA. The study could include patients with and without psychiatric conditions to determine the true incidence rate of psychological side effects, Pfizer officials said.


Franken thanks supporters at rally

ST. PAUL, Minn. | Sen.-elect Al Franken turned a rally at Minnesota’s Capitol on Wednesday into an extended thank-you to supporters, promising not to “waste this chance” in what amounted to a victory speech nearly eight months late.

With a crowd of several hundred cheering his words, Mr. Franken said he had drawn strength from their efforts when his spirits flagged during the long recount and subsequent legal fight.

“When you win an election by this close a margin, you know not one bit of effort went to waste,” the Democrat said the day after the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed his victory and Republican Norm Coleman conceded.

Many in the crowd wore pro-Franken or pro-union shirts. “I’m one of 312,” read one sign, a nod to Mr. Franken’s winning margin.

His speech had the feel of one ordinarily given on election night, as he pledged to fight for childhood education and renewable energy, among other issues.


Obama to join Corzine at rally

TRENTON, N.J. | New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is getting some in-person campaign help from President Obama as polls show him lagging in his re-election bid.

Mr. Corzine announced Wednesday that Mr. Obama will join him July 16 at a rally on the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Corzine campaign spokesman Sean Darcy said the president will also headline a fundraising event for Mr. Corzine.

The news of Mr. Obama’s appearance comes as a poll shows Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie still leading the Democratic incumbent.

The Fairleigh Dickinson-PublicMind Poll of 803 registered voters released Wednesday found 45 percent favoring Mr. Christie, with 39 percent for Mr. Corzine. Fifteen percent were undecided.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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