- The Washington Times - Friday, February 12, 2010

EX-PRESIDENT

Clinton undergoes heart procedure

Former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted in one of his heart arteries after being hospitalized with chest pains, an adviser said Thursday.

Mr. Clinton, 63, “is in good spirits and will continue to focus on the work of his foundation and Haiti’s relief and long-term recovery efforts,” said adviser Douglas Band.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left Washington and headed to New York to be with her husband, who underwent the procedure at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Stents are tiny mesh scaffolds used to prop open an artery after it is unclogged in an angioplasty procedure. Doctors thread a tube through a blood vessel in the groin to a blocked artery, inflate a balloon to flatten the clog, and slide the stent into place.

That is a different treatment from what Mr. Clinton had in 2004, when clogged arteries first landed him in the hospital. He underwent quadruple-bypass surgery because of four blocked arteries, some of which had squeezed almost completely shut.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama doesn’t ‘begrudge’ wealthy

Less than a month after calling bank executives’ pay “obscene,” President Obama is declining to criticize bonuses received by two top Wall Street chief executives, saying he doesn’t “begrudge people success or wealth.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week, the president compared Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., with athletes who are paid even more.

“First of all, I know both those guys,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re very savvy businessmen. And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That’s part of the free-market system.”

The full interview does not appear until Friday. But the White House, eager to defend the president’s remarks, issued a transcript Wednesday of the exchange over bank compensation to show that Mr. Obama was not expressing approval of the Blankfein and Dimon bonuses.

Mr. Dimon received a $17 million bonus, and Mr. Blankfein received $9 million. The compensation was in the form of stock that can’t be redeemed immediately.

LABOR

New farmworker rules approved

The Labor Department is reversing Bush administration rules that made it easier for farmers to hire temporary foreign workers to help pick their crops.

The new regulations will increase wages and offer greater protections for thousands of foreign farmworkers. The rules also require growers to make a greater effort to fill those jobs with domestic workers.

Farm owners have vehemently opposed changes to the H-2A guest-worker program. They say the new rules make it more burdensome and expensive to hire foreign workers for physically grueling jobs that most Americans don’t want. But labor and immigrant rights groups claimed the Bush regulations slashed farm wages and made it harder for domestic workers to claim those jobs.

HOUSE

Diaz-Balart balks at re-election bid

MIAMI | Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, says he will not seek another term this fall, stepping aside after two decades in office.

Mr. Diaz-Balart made the announcement at a Thursday news conference. He said he was going back to practicing law.

He won a special election for Florida’s 21st Congressional District in 1989 and went virtually unchallenged until last year, when fellow Cuban-American and former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez ran against him.

Mr. Diaz-Balart, whose aunt was Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s first wife, fled with his family to Miami as a child.

He spent much of his career as an advocate against Cuba’s communist government, helping shape the U.S. government’s current policy toward Cuba.

NEW YORK

Convicted senator sues to bar ouster

ALBANY, N.Y. | A New York lawmaker whose colleagues voted to expel him because of a misdemeanor assault conviction is filing suit in federal court, claiming the state Senate had no right to oust him.

In a civil rights suit being filed Thursday in Manhattan, Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate asks the court to block his expulsion and a March 16 special election to replace him. He says the Senate has denied him due process and denied his constituents their right to representation.

The Senate voted 53-8 to remove Monserrate, who was convicted last fall of dragging his girlfriend, a scene captured on surveillance cameras in his apartment building. He was acquitted of felony assault. A felony conviction would have automatically cost him the Senate seat.

WYOMING

Wind-energy tax advances in House

CHEYENNE, Wyo. | The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted to introduce a bill that would impose an excise tax on wind-energy generation.

The chamber gave House Bill 101 the two-thirds vote it needed Thursday for introduction and referred it to the House Revenue Committee.

The wind tax is one of Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s legislative priorities. His staffers lobbied House members to advance the proposal for more debate.

The bill would impose a $3-per-megawatt-hour excise tax on commercial wind-energy production, a rate that equals a tax of about 5 percent.

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