- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

REPUBLICANS

Huckabee: Avoid the ‘mushy middle’

OKOBOJI, Iowa | Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee warned Republicans on Wednesday against moving to the “mushy middle,” arguing that only clearly stated conservative policies can bring the party back to power.

Mr. Huckabee spoke during his second trip to Iowa since he won the 2008 Republican caucuses. That win was the high point of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, which ultimately went to Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“I hear people who give advice that the Republicans need to moderate. They need to be a little more to the left,” Mr. Huckabee said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It sounds like advice that Democrats would give to us so that we’d never win another election ever.”

Mr. Huckabee added: “It’s when [Republicans] move to the mushy middle and get squishy that they get beat.”

JUSTICE

Jefferson witness won’t be called

The woman who triggered an investigation of former Rep. William J. Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, isn’t being called by prosecutors to testify at his trial on bribery and racketeering charges.

Prosecutors didn’t explain their decision Wednesday not to call businesswoman Lori Mody.

Authorities say Miss Mody was cooperating with agents when she gave Mr. Jefferson a suitcase containing $100,000 in cash. They say federal agents found most of the money days later in Mr. Jefferson’s freezer.

Mr. Jefferson is on trial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, accused of bribery, racketeering and other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty.

Defense lawyers have raised questions about Miss Mody’s credibility and said they wanted to question her about her mental health.

HEALTH CARE

AMA to hear Obama’s pitch

President Obama plans to speak to the American Medical Association on Monday to push for his health care overhaul.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that Mr. Obama will travel to Chicago to make his pitch at the association’s annual meeting. Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama will call the status quo unacceptable during the Monday speech.

Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama will describe why past efforts to change health care systems failed and warn about what happens if the overhaul doesn’t take place this year.

Mr. Obama heads to Green Bay, Wis., on Thursday to talk with voters about his plan.

SENATE

NTSB faults aviation agency

Senators on Wednesday urged the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a 2005 recommendation that airlines be required to check the training histories of pilots they hire, an issue in a February air crash near Buffalo, N.Y.

Mark Rosenker, chairman of National Transportation Safety Board, told a Senate committee probing safety issues related to FAA’s oversight of regional airlines that the board urged three years ago that airlines be required to request a pilot’s complete training history from the agency.

FAA has declined to make the recommendation mandatory, choosing instead to tell air carriers that they will provide training records if pilots sign a privacy waiver. FAA administers the flight checks that pilots must pass to qualify to fly commercial airliners.

Officials for Colgan Air Inc. of Manassas have acknowledged they didn’t seek the training history of pilot Marvin Renslow when they hired him. Mr. Renslow - the captain of Continental Express 3407, which crashed Feb. 12, killing all 49 aboard and a man on the ground - didn’t disclose to Colgan when he was hired that he had previously failed several tests of his piloting skills.

Mr. Colgan operated the flight for Continental.

Mr. Rosenker told the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s aviation subcommittee, which held the hearing, that FAA has also failed to implement hundreds of other NTSB recommendations.

RECORDS

Archives names FOIA ombudsman

The National Archives appointed a veteran open-government advocate Wednesday to be the first Freedom of Information Act ombudsman, empowered to mediate disputes between people who request data and the agencies that have it.

Miriam Nisbet, who now heads the information society division of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, was chosen to direct the Archives’ new Office of Government Information Services, acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas announced.

“While the federal FOIA mediator’s office is still a long way from mediating its first FOIA dispute, it took a big step forward today,” said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of nine media groups, including the Associated Press. Mr. Blum said Mrs. Nisbet “is a longtime advocate for open government, and this is a promising start for those who want the FOIA to work better.”

Ms. Thomas said Mrs. Nisbet “has dedicated her entire professional life to working for open access to government records.”

MINNESOTA

Coleman must pay Franken $94,783

ST. PAUL, Minn. | Republican Norm Coleman must pay Democrat Al Franken $94,783 to cover court costs for his appeal of Minnesota Senate election results.

A Ramsey County court administrator entered the judgment Wednesday. It results from the two-month trial that ended with Mr. Coleman 312 votes short of Mr. Franken.

Minnesota law required Mr. Coleman to cover some of Mr. Franken’s court costs because the race’s outcome didn’t change. The judgment excludes Mr. Franken’s attorney fees.

The men have spent $50 million so far on their campaigns and legal fight over the November election. That’s more than double the cost of the 2002 race when Mr. Coleman captured what had been a Democratic seat.

The Minnesota Supreme Court hasn’t said when it will rule on Mr. Coleman’s appeal.

PHARMACEUTICALS

FDA advisers OK psychiatric drug

ADELPHI, Md. | Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration say a powerful psychiatric drug from AstraZeneca is safe and effective for children and adolescents.

The FDA’s panel of experts voted overwhelmingly that the pill Seroquel is a useful treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in patients ages 10 to 17.

The group also is weighing expanded approval of drugs from Eli Lilly and Pfizer. All three drugs already are approved to treat adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, also called manic depression.

The FDA is not required to follow the group’s advice, though it usually does.

A positive FDA decision would allow the companies to expand marketing of drugs that already make up the top-selling class of prescriptions in the United States.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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