- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

AFL-CIO

Sweeney attacks in farewell speech

PITTSBURGH | John J. Sweeney, stepping down after 14 years at the helm of the AFL-CIO, urged union leaders Sunday to keep up the fight to reform health care and overhaul labor laws so workers can form unions more easily.

“We’re on the cusp of the greatest advance in labor law reform in 70 years, but we’re taking heavy fire from the corporate captains of deceit,” Mr. Sweeney told about 1,000 union members at the federation’s convention.

He said efforts to pass health care legislation have been met with “a firestorm of meanness, stoked by politicians playing on fear, racism, nativism and greed.”

Health care and labor laws are at the top of the AFL-CIO’s political agenda as it welcomes new leadership for the first time since 1995. Mr. Sweeney’s longtime deputy, Richard Trumka, is expected to be named AFL-CIO president Wednesday.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama deplores killing of pro-lifer

President Obama is calling the shooting of a Michigan anti-abortion activist “deplorable.”

The White House on Sunday released a statement from the president on the shooting of James Pouillon. Mr. Obama said “whichever side of a public debate you’re on, violence is never the right answer.”

The two-sentence statement comes after a Friday shooting spree that left Mr. Pouillon and business owner Mike Fuoss dead in the small Michigan city of Owosso. Mr. Pouillon was shot while standing across the street from a school, holding a sign that pictured the image of an aborted fetus.

A truck driver was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder later Friday.

BLM

U.S. mulls fate of looted artifacts

SALT LAKE CITY | Once the legal dust settles from the nation’s biggest bust of Southwestern artifact looting, federal officials face another daunting task: deciding what to do with the ancient sandals, pipes, pendants and thousands of other items associated with the investigation.

It could take years to sort through the ancient Native American relics — seven truckloads have been collected already this summer — and determine where each should go, said Emily Palus, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s national curator in Washington.

Most of the items from those found guilty will likely end up in handpicked public museums in the Four Corners region or with an American Indian tribe.

“Ultimately, the people will benefit. Collections will be curated and made available to the public for research and exhibitions,” the curator said.

EPA

Water polluters rarely punished

Polluters are admitting dumping more toxic substances into U.S. drinking-water supplies, but they are rarely punished by regulators, records indicate.

Even though chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have self-reported more than 500,000 instances of violating the Clean Water Act in the past five years, state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have often failed to act, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Regulators admitted to the newspaper that enforcement actions are unacceptably rare. New EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said state regulators struggle with insufficient resources and vowed to make clean tap water her agency’s top priority.

The New York Times, after obtaining hundreds of thousands of water-pollution records through the Freedom of Information Act, found that an estimated one in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that holds hazardous chemicals or that doesn’t meet safety standards in other ways.

Researchers told the newspaper that because most polluted water has no scent or taste, people don’t realize they’ve been exposed until they contract cancer or other illnesses.

SURVEY

Average gas price declines to $2.59

CAMARILLO, Calif. | The average price of regular gasoline in the United States is down about a nickel from three weeks ago to $2.59 a gallon.

That’s according to the national Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday.

Analyst Trilby Lundberg says the average price for a gallon of midgrade was $2.72. Premium was at $2.84.

St. Louis had the lowest price, $2.26 a gallon for regular. Anchorage was the highest at $3.27.

FLU

Drug affects human cells, blocking virus

A new type of experimental flu drug that stops the virus from infecting cells appears to stop it from mutating into drug-resistant forms, researchers reported Sunday.

Tests in mice and in lab dishes show that NexBio Inc.’s drug Fludase can stop the seasonal influenza virus from infecting cells and can fight strains of virus that have evolved resistance to Tamiflu, Roche AG’s popular influenza drug, the company said.

“Extensive, prolonged nonclinical influenza studies have not shown the development of any meaningful resistance,” the company said in a statement released at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco.

Privately held NexBio Inc. said tests showed that Fludase, also known as DAS181, worked against the new H1N1 swine flu virus too.

Influenza viruses very quickly change to put up a strong defense against antiviral drugs. Last year, the seasonal H1N1 virus developed strong resistance to Tamiflu. Two older flu drugs, amantadine and rimantadine, now have very little effect against influenza viruses.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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