- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 10, 2009


Harkin to replace Kennedy on panel

A leadership shake-up announced Wednesday by Senate Democrats resulting from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s death will continue to empower the party’s more left-leaning members on crucial issues, with Sen. Tom Harkin set to take over health care.

Mr. Harkin, an Iowa Democrat whose old-fashioned progressivism was not unlike Mr. Kennedy’s, will replace the former Massachusetts senator as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, will remain in charge of the banking committee and help Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, oversee a complex rewrite of the rules governing the nation’s financial institutions.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters the decision was based on simple seniority and that Mr. Harkin - an ardent supporter of the White House proposal to offer Americans a government insurance option - was a “perfect fit.”

Mr. Harkin’s departure from the agriculture committee hands that chairmanship to Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, a more moderate Democrat but staunch supporter of government farm subsidies.


Web site to focus on food safety

The Obama administration is rolling out a new Web site designed to streamline food-safety information for consumers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the new Web site - www.foodsafety.gov - on Wednesday during the Consumer Federation of America’s food-policy conference. The site will put food-related information from all federal agencies in one place, including recall and contamination alerts and tips on how to safely handle food.

The Web site is a joint effort of HHS, the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Mrs. Sebelius says the site would help consumers who have been worried about product recalls.


Protesters assail Pittsburgh mayor

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl came to the nation’s capital Wednesday to tout his city’s readiness to host the upcoming Group of 20 economic summit - and was interrupted by protesters who accused him of being too slow to issue demonstration permits.

Mr. Ravenstahl said the city has granted the eight permit requests so far and is considering more. He said city officials want to ensure that demonstrators’ First Amendment rights are respected during the meetings, scheduled for Sept. 24-25.

“If not all, the majority of those permits will be granted,” Mr. Ravenstahl said.

Wednesday’s protesters, however, said they were not aware of any approved permits.


Ex-VOA official denies corruption

A former top official for Voice of America has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he was corrupted after being lavishly entertained by now-imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Horace Cooper entered the plea during his arraignment Wednesday at federal court in Washington.

He is accused of taking thousands of dollars worth of tickets to sporting events and concerts like ‘N Sync, the Dixie Chicks, and Bruce Springsteen without reporting them. He’s also accused of receiving thousands of dollars in meals and drinks at the restaurant Abramoff owned and a Super Bowl party for him and about 25 friends.

Prosecutors say Mr. Cooper illegally advanced the interests of Abramoff and his clients when he was working as chief of staff at Voice of America and then the Labor Department.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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