- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

HOUSE

GOP falls short on Guantanamo

Republicans in the House have lost a bid to block the transfer of any detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States.

Instead, the House stood by a Democratic plan to allow suspected enemy combatants held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be shipped to U.S. soil only to be prosecuted for their suspected crimes. President Obama has ordered the facility closed in January but has yet to offer a plan to accomplish that.

Democratic leaders had to push hard for the win because many lawmakers see political danger in voting to move detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The Republican plan failed on a 193-224 vote.

The Guantanamo restrictions were attached by House-Senate negotiators on a $42.8 billion homeland security appropriations bill.

SUPREME COURT

Ginsburg spends night in hospital

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was kept at a hospital overnight after she became drowsy and fell from her seat aboard an airplane. Court officials blamed a reaction to medicine.

Justice Ginsburg was taken to Washington Hospital Center about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday by paramedics and released Thursday morning, court officials said.

Justice Ginsburg, along with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Antonin Scalia, was heading to London to take part in ceremonies marking the opening of Britain’s new Supreme Court.

“Prior to the plane taking off, the justice experienced extreme drowsiness causing her to fall from her seat,” a court statement said. “Paramedics were called, and the justice was taken to the Washington Hospital Center as a precaution.”

The statement said doctors attributed her symptoms to a reaction caused by the combination of a prescription sleeping aid and an over-the-counter cold medicine.

COURTS

Jurors backtrack in lobbyist’s trial

Jurors undid their verdict Thursday in the trial of an ex-lobbyist caught up in the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal, prompting the judge to send the panel back for more deliberations.

On the eighth day of reviewing the evidence in the case against Kevin Ring, most of the case appeared to be headed toward a mistrial after jurors told U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle they were unable to reach a verdict on seven charges and that they no longer agreed on the verdict they had reached on the eighth charge earlier this week. They have not said what that verdict was.

In a trial that began five weeks ago, Mr. Ring is accused of bestowing thousands of dollars worth of tickets and meals on the offices of then-Republican Reps. John Doolittle of California and Ernest Istook of Oklahoma, and on Justice Department officials, in return for congressional appropriations and other assistance for Abramoff’s clients. It is those seven charges on which jurors said they feel it is impossible to reach agreement.

The eighth charge relates to Mr. Ring’s role in arranging a job that paid $96,000 to Mr. Doolittle’s wife. On Tuesday, the jurors said they had a verdict on that count. On Thursday, the jurors told the judge they were divided on it again.

“Go back” and deliberate some more on the eighth count, the judge told the panel.

ENERGY

Agency criticizes reactor design

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised safety concerns Thursday with the design of a proposed next-generation reactor to be built by Westinghouse Electric Co., saying a key part of the reactor may not withstand a tornado, earthquake or even high winds.

The commission staff directed Westinghouse to make changes in the reactor design so that its outer shell, which is supposed to protect the reactor’s concrete containment structure, is strengthened. The staff concluded the outer steel and composite structure does not meet the design requirements for safety.

The reactor, called the AP1000, is one of three next-generation reactor designs under commission review. The others are being proposed by Areva Inc., the French nuclear company, and GE Hitachi Corp.

But the AP1000 is one of the most popular and has been widely viewed as likely to be the first of the new reactors to be built in the United States. At least seven utilities have selected the reactor design in preliminary applications filed with the commission, anticipating the potential construction of 14 units.

HEALTH

Study supports smoking bans

Indoor smoking bans lower the risk of heart attack, even among nonsmokers, by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, a panel of U.S. health experts said in a report Thursday.

The report, produced by the Institute of Medicine for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides the most definitive evidence to date that laws that ban smoking from workplaces, restaurants and bars can reduce cardiovascular-related health problems where they are imposed.

“Secondhand smoke kills. What this report shows is that smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks in nonsmokers,” said CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

“But still, most of the country lives in areas that don’t have comprehensive smoke-free laws covering all workplaces, all restaurants and all bars,” he said.

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