- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Baucus suggests green tariffs

The United States must include a tariff or some other “border measure” to protect U.S. manufacturers from unfair foreign competition as part of legislation to address climate change, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Tuesday.

“We cannot allow our manufacturing industries to fade as result of trade with countries that refuse to negotiate global solutions to global concerns,” the Montana Democrat said.

“We must push our trading partners to do their part to curb harmful emissions and we must devise a border measure, consistent with our international obligations, to prevent the carbon leakage that would occur if U.S. manufacturing shifts to countries without effective climate-change programs,” he said.

Border measures generally refer to a tax or tariff on imports, although they could take other forms.

Mr. Baucus, who is expected to play a key role in shaping final U.S. climate legislation, was not specific about what type of border measure he meant.


Women to become unionized majority

Women are on track to become a majority of unionized workers in the next 10 years, signaling their growing clout in the labor movement.

The shift, outlined in a report Tuesday from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, could see organized labor focus more intensely on issues important to women as unions look to broaden their ranks and wield greater political strength in the next election cycle.

“When you have a majority of women in the labor movement, issues like work-family balance, paid sick days and paid parental leave become more important,” said John Schmitt, an economist at the left-leaning think tank and one of the authors of the report.

The study tracks the growing diversity of the labor movement over the past quarter century, including a surge in Hispanic union members and the steep decline of unionized workers from the manufacturing sector.

Women now make up about 45 percent of union members, up from just 35 percent in 1983. That number is expected to move past 50 percent by 2020. White men now make up 38 percent of the union work force, down from 51.7 percent in 1983.


U.S. targets firms with cocaine links

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday said it imposed sanctions on 14 persons and 25 companies in Colombia, Spain and the Netherlands that it said supported the financial network of former bosses of Colombia’s Cali cocaine cartel.

The Treasury said the individuals and firms were discovered to have had links to relatives of Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and his brother, Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, who are serving U.S. prison terms for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The action blacklists the individuals and companies as narcotics traffickers, prohibiting Americans from doing business with them and freezing any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction, the Treasury said.

The Treasury said the most prominent of the newly sanctioned Colombians and Spaniards is Hernando Mejia Uribe, a Colombian national who it said collaborated to hide assets belonging to the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers.

The companies include property development firms in both Colombia and Spain, the Treasury said.


Mortgage program now reaches 1 in 5

After a slow start, the Obama administration’s mortgage-relief program has reached one in five eligible homeowners, a government report says.

As of the end of October, more than 650,000 borrowers, or 20 percent of those eligible, have signed up for trials lasting up to five months, the Treasury Department said Tuesday. The modifications reduce monthly payments to more affordable levels.

Launched with great fanfare in March, the plan got off to a weak start, but now nearly 920,000 loan modification offers have been sent to more than 3.2 million eligible homeowners. That works out to 29 percent, up from 15 percent at the end of July.


Physician set to lead USAID

SINGAPORE | The Obama administration will nominate a young former executive with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to run America’s top foreign assistance program, ending months of speculation and complaints about who would take the vacant post, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

President Obama has chosen Rajiv Shah, a medical doctor and currently a senior official at the Department of Agriculture dealing with food security, to run the U.S. Agency for International Development, the officials said.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity pending notification to Congress and a formal public announcement of the choice.


CDC: Flow of H1N1 vaccines picking up

The flow of swine flu vaccines to the U.S. market is picking up, health and corporate officials said Tuesday, and now the challenge will be to get the drugs to people.

Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 41.1 million doses of H1N1 vaccines are either available or have been delivered but that state and local health officials still face logistical problems.

“I can’t tell you how many times in our outreach to our counterparts that we got messages back saying ‘It’s Friday, we are furloughed’ or ‘We are out today,’ ” Dr. Schuchat told a Senate health subcommittee hearing.

Many states have furloughed workers - making them take a day off without pay - because of budgets hit by the recession.

“I think the key barrier to our immunization effort is really the fragility of the public health infrastructure,” Dr. Schuchat said. “There have been about 15,000 jobs lost in that sector over the past two years.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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