- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Toomey considers run against Specter

Pat Toomey nearly beat Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s 2004 Republican primary. Now, Mr. Toomey, president of the anti-tax Club for Growth, is weighing another run against Mr. Specter.

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Mr. Toomey said in a statement released Monday that he thinks government bailouts are taking the country on a dangerously wrong path and that’s why he’s considering a Senate bid next year.

Mr. Specter beat Mr. Toomey in the primary by about 17,000 votes out of more than a million cast. Mr. Specter went on to win a fifth term.

The 79-year-old Mr. Specter has battled Hodgkin’s disease, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Mr. Toomey is a former House member from northeast Pennsylvania.


Jindal shrugs off criticism of speech

BATON ROUGE, La. | Widely panned for his national TV address, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal offered his first defense of the speech Monday, saying he sticks by the message, while acknowledging shortcomings in his delivery.

“Look, I get that people thought I could have spoken better. I get that. That’s fine. … What’s important to me is the content. I’m a policy guy. You guys know that. I’ve always been a policy guy, always will be a policy guy. The ideas are important. The substance is important,” Mr. Jindal told reporters in the state Capitol, a day after returning from a family vacation.

The 37-year-old governor, regularly touted as a presidential contender, said he outlined a critical philosophical distinction between the views of Democrats and Republicans as he gave the national Republican Party response to Mr. Obama’s first address to Congress last week.

Republican Party leaders have touted the Oxford-educated Mr. Jindal, son of Indian immigrants, as the future of the Republican Party, generating lofty expectations for his debut national address. Mr. Jindal said he wrote the speech himself.

But the address has been the target of political commentators, comics and bloggers who called it amateurish and out of step with the American public.


Justice releases anti-terror memos

The Justice Department on Monday released a long-secret legal document from 2001 in which the Bush administration said the military could search and seize terrorism suspects in the United States without warrants.

The legal memo was written about a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It said constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure would not apply to terrorism suspects in the United States, as long as the president or another high official authorized the action.

Even after the Bush administration rescinded that legal analysis, the Justice Department refused to release its contents, prompting a standoff with congressional Democrats.

The memo was one of nine released Monday by the Obama administration.

Another memo showed that, within two weeks of Sept. 11, the administration was contemplating ways to use wiretaps without getting warrants.


Blagojevich book to show ‘dark side’

CHICAGO | A publicist for Rod R. Blagojevich says the former Illinois governor plans to write a book “exposing the dark side of politics.”

Glenn Selig said Mr. Blagojevich signed a six-figure deal Monday.

Mr. Selig said the book also will detail how Mr. Blagojevich selected President Obama’s successor in the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office after his arrest on federal charges that include charges he tried to sell the Senate seat. He denies wrongdoing.

Mr. Selig said Mr. Blagojevich’s book will tell the truth and will reveal information “that will at times be embarrassing to himself as well as to others.”

Mr. Blagojevich’s book will be published by Phoenix Books and released in October.


Common flu resists top treatment

Virtually all cases of the most common strain of flu circulating in the United States now resist the main drug used to treat it, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.

CDC researchers said 98 percent of all flu samples from the H1N1 strain were resistant to Roche AG’s Tamiflu, a pill that can both treat flu and prevent infection. Four patients infected with the resistant strain have died, including two children.

This year, H1N1 is the most common strain of flu in the United States, although the flu season is a mild one so far, and still below the levels considered an epidemic.

Few doctors even test patients for flu, and Tamiflu is not widely prescribed. But the news is sobering because the pill, known generically as oseltamivir, is one of the few weapons against influenza, which kills an estimated 36,000 people in the United States in an average year.


Waxman pushes cigarette-FDA bill

With support from a president who’s been trying to kick the habit himself, lawmakers renewed their efforts Monday to require government regulation of cigarettes.

President Obama has been an occasional smoker who acknowledged recently that quitting hasn’t been easy. While in the Senate last year he co-sponsored legislation that would have given the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products, to reduce the harm from smoking.

The legislation passed the House last summer but faced a veto threat from President Bush and didn’t get a vote in the Senate.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, who has fought for years for government regulation of tobacco products, reintroduced the bill Monday.

Mr. Waxman plans to bring the bill to a vote Wednesday in the Energy and Commerce Committee, which he chairs, and said he was optimistic it would become law during this session of Congress.


Southwest Airlines fined $7.5 million

Southwest Airlines will pay a fine of $7.5 million for flying planes that had missed critical safety checks - $2.7 million less than government regulators initially ordered.

The agreement announced Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration also gives the Dallas-based airline nearly two years to pay the fine in three installments of $2.5 million each. The first installment is due in 10 business days from the signing of the agreement.

Last year, FAA ordered Southwest to pay $10.2 million, which would have been the largest fine in the agency’s history. The airline protested the fine and had been in negotiations with FAA for the past year.

The largest fine against an airline by FAA remains a $9.5 million penalty against Eastern Airlines in 1987 that wasn’t fully paid because the airline went bankrupt. The $7.5 million settlement agreement with Southwest marks the next largest, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

The airline was fined for flying 46 airplanes on 59,791 flights without performing mandatory inspections for fuselage cracks. The planes, mostly Boeing 737s, carried an estimated 145,000 passengers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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