- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009


Foes prepare for public hearing

BOSTON | Democratic and Republican lawmakers are gearing up for a contentious public hearing Wednesday over a bill that would allow Gov. Deval Patrick to name a temporary replacement for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Before his death last month from brain cancer, Mr. Kennedy sent a letter to Mr. Patrick, state Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, asking lawmakers to change state law to allow an interim Senate appointee to serve until a special election can be held.

Mr. Patrick, who has scheduled the Senate election for Jan. 19, supports the change, saying Massachusetts needs two voices in the Senate during the next five months.

Key Democrats in the Senate - including Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and John Kerry of Massachusetts - also support the interim appointment as they prepare for debate on President Obama’s health care overhaul.

But Republicans point out that just five years ago, the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate changed the state law to block then-Gov. Mitt Romney from naming a fellow Republican to fill the seat in the event that Mr. Kerry, the Democrats’ presidential nominee, won his White House campaign.


Obama targets vending machines

The Energy Department, on orders of President Obama, announced this past week it is cracking down on vending machines.

The Energy Department sent forth the first-ever energy-efficiency standards for beverage vending machines; about 2.3 million of the machines are now in use nationwide. It said the new rules, once they take effect in 2012, could cut a machine’s electricity use by about 3,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Among the changes expected: reductions in the illumination of the machines and a switch to more efficient - and “green” - refrigerants. The 189 pages of regulations can be found at www.energy.gov.


Health chief cites flu vaccine safety

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says his children are going to get the swine flu vaccine when it’s available.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, in an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said health officials have “very high confidence” in the safety of the vaccine. He said it’s a vaccine that’s being made in the same way that the flu vaccine is made each year - except that it’s a new strain.

Vaccine development is continuing, and the vaccine is likely to be available by October.

Dr. Frieden also said that with schools and colleges back in session, officials are seeing a fair amount of the flu already - and he said it’s unusual that it has continued to occur over the summer.


Patrick Kennedy thanks constituents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | The son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is thanking his Rhode Island constituents for their support and sympathy after his father’s death.

Congressman Patrick Kennedy took out a half-page ad inside Sunday’s front section of the Providence Journal that includes a photo of him and his father standing next to each other and smiling.

Mr. Kennedy says in the ad that his family has been overwhelmed and deeply moved by the outpouring of condolences from the public. He says it has helped strengthen the family through the difficult times.

Edward Kennedy died Aug. 25. He was 77.


Study seeks limits on laughing gas

A new study says nitrous oxide - better known as “laughing gas” - is the world’s top ozone killer caused by man.

Research by the Earth System Research Laboratory at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the emissions - which come from the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, the burning of biofuel and sewage-treatment processes, among other things - are more damaging than the more commonly known ozone-hole makers such as chlorofluorocarbons.

Published in the publication Science, the study calls for limits on laughing-gas emissions similar to those that regulate CFCs.


Agency to track missing children

A “National Emergency Child Locator Center” is being established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help track and locate children who become separated from parents or guardians during a major disaster.

The program will be operated out of the privately run National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to Government Security News, an online newsletter that first reported the program.

FEMA also intends to create teams of teenagers - called “Teen Community Emergency Response Teams” - that will be trained to help out when emergency responders are not immediately available at the site of a disaster.

The agency also has created a “FEMA for Kids” Web site, www.fema.gov/kids. It features “disaster-related games” and other learning opportunities.

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