- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009


New Michelle Melt: Burger with a cause

There’s a new burger in town, and it’s got Michelle Obama’s name on it.

The Michelle Melt at Good Stuff Eatery was unveiled Thursday by chef Spike Mendelsohn, a former contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” He developed it in collaboration with White House chef Sam Kass, who previously cooked for the Obama family in Chicago.

How does a turkey burger qualify as a Michelle Melt? Fresh, organic, locally grown ingredients that promote healthier eating, and the same herbs that are found in the White House garden started by Mrs. Obama.

The recipe: free range turkey burger, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, ruby red tomato, crisp lettuce, South Lawn herb garden mayo, freshly baked wheat bun.

Mr. Mendelsohn plans to donate proceeds from the burger’s sale to D.C. Central Kitchen, which distributes food to homeless people.


Obama’s lobbyist pick draws fire

President Obama’s nomination of a trucking industry lobbyist to head the agency that regulates the industry drew fire Wednesday from senators and safety advocates.

Anne Ferro, the president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association for the past six years, was named to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a troubled agency that has been widely criticized for allowing safety recommendations to languish for years without action.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, told Ms. Ferro at a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, that the motor carrier administration is “an agency in dire need of reform.”

“Given your ties, Ms. Ferro, to the trucking industry … I am concerned about your ability to take the bold action we need to keep Americans safe,” Mr. Lautenberg said.


Foundation to promote U.S. global spending

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is launching a campaign to highlight the U.S. government’s efforts to improve global health.

The concept for the Living Proof Project came from Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp., and his wife, who felt the American people weren’t getting the message about the impact U.S.-supported initiatives were having in the developing world.

“We want to show Americans that their investments in global health are working,” Mr. Gates said in a statement announcing the campaign.

The project, launching Thursday, includes an advertising campaign in Washington and a Web site with personal stories from people who have benefited from U.S. programs.

Support for global health programs increased significantly under former President George W. Bush, who created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, called PEPFAR.


Byrd released from hospital after fall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, is out of the hospital.

The 91-year-old West Virginia Democrat was hospitalized for two days after tests uncovered an elevated white-blood cell count. The possible infection turned up during treatment for a fall at his Northern Virginia home Tuesday.

Mr. Byrd has been in frail health in recent years and was hospitalized in May and June with dangerous infections. But he returned to the Senate in July to vote and earlier this month gave his first floor speech in months, where he talked about the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.


Duncan to pitch for Chicago’s bid

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will travel to Denmark next week to support his hometown of Chicago’s Olympic bid.

Mr. Duncan will join first lady Michelle Obama and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in Copenhagen for the Oct. 2 meeting of the International Olympic Committee. The committee will be choosing a host city for the 2016 Summer Games.

Mr. Duncan was a co-captain of Harvard’s basketball team and later played professionally in Australia.


Congress urged to up parks spending

An independent panel says the United States should invest more money in its national parks to preserve them for future generations.

The commission called on Congress to sharply increase spending, saying better parks will bring increased tourism and promote enjoyment of the outdoors.

The bipartisan National Parks Second Century Commission wants President Obama to appoint a panel charged with promoting the parks and raising private money in time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.


Cell phone ban eyed for commercial drivers

Safety investigators told federal regulators three years ago that it was dangerous for bus drivers to talk on cell phones while driving and recommended a ban.

The National Transportation Safety Board put that recommendation on its list of most important safety measures. Industry and safety groups had no objections.

Yet the regulatory agency that would write new rules on cell phone use by commercial drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, has done little more than study the issue.

Now, after several high-profile accidents that focused public attention on using cell phones on the road, the Obama administration has decided to act on the recommendation, which was left hanging by the George W. Bush administration.


No Child Left Behind target for changes

The Obama administration is committed to the school accountability at the heart of the No Child Left Behind law championed by former President George W. Bush but also wants to make changes, says Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Mr. Duncan credited the law for shining a spotlight on children who need the most help, according to a speech prepared for delivery Thursday. No Child Left Behind pushes schools to boost the performance of minority and poor children, who trail their white peers on standardized tests.

Mr. Duncan agreed with critics that standardized tests are not ideal measures of student achievement. Yet “they are the best we have at the moment,” Mr. Duncan said.

From combined dispatches and wire reports

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