- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 5, 2010


High school wins speech by Obama

Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, Mich., beat out the competition to land President Obama as its commencement speaker.

Mr. Obama himself made the announcement Tuesday during a speech to business leaders.

The president said he’s looking forward to it and gave a shout-out to the school mascot, saying: “Go, Giants!”

The competition was designed to promote Mr. Obama’s goals of increasing high school and college graduation rates and improving academics.

Mr. Obama selected Kalamazoo from three finalists picked by the public in online voting based on presentations submitted by the schools.


Obama interviews Wood for opening

President Obama interviewed federal Judge Diane Wood of Chicago on Tuesday for an opening on the Supreme Court, the fourth candidate known to have had face-to-face talks with the president, according to sources.

Judge Wood met with Mr. Obama in the Oval Office and also interviewed separately with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The president appears to be near to a decision. He has done sit-down interviews in recent days with at least three other finalists: Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appeals court Judges Merrick Garland, who serves in the District of Columbia, and Sidney Thomas, who is based in Montana.


Plane’s river ditching offers lessons learned

Federal safety investigators on Tuesday applauded last year’s ditching of an airliner into the Hudson River as an example of an accident in which everything went right, but they still drafted a slew of safety recommendations for how it can go even better should such an event happen again.

Recommendations being considered by the National Transportation Safety Board include changing aircraft engines so that they are better able to withstand large birds. It also wants specific procedures for pilots to follow when they lose the use of both engines at low altitudes; current procedures assume engine power will be lost at a high altitude with enough time to recover.

The board also wants to alert pilots immediately if engines aren’t capable of being restarted so that they don’t waste precious time trying to restart them. It wants to improve training for pilots on how to land in water, including landing without engine power. And it wants all airports that serve airlines to have plans for reducing birds and other wildlife on airport property.


Feds fear witness intimidation in probe

Federal officials concerned about witness intimidation are setting up a second team to investigate the blast that killed 29 workers at a West Virginia coal mine.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the special team of investigators will work anonymously with miners, victims’ families and others who fear retaliation for speaking freely.

The agency says it wants to give family members and others the chance to share information they might not feel comfortable passing along.

The new team will respond to an anonymous tip line set up to take calls about the investigation into the April 5 explosion.

A spokesman for mine owner Massey Energy says the company will continue to fully cooperate with all investigations.


Contamination found in cold medicine

Ingredients used by Johnson & Johnson in some of the 40 varieties of children’s cold medicines recalled last week were contaminated with bacteria, according to a report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Agency officials said Tuesday none of the company’s finished products tested positive for the contaminants, though such testing is not definitive.

The FDA report, which was posted online, lists more than 20 manufacturing problems found at the McNeil Consumer Healthcare plant in Fort Washington, Pa., where the formulas were made. The recalled products include children and infant formulations of Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl.

FDA officials said the immediate risk to consumers was “remote.”


Poll: Specter’s lead over opponent shrinks

HARRISBURG l A new poll shows that Sen. Arlen Specter’s lead is narrowing over the congressman who is challenging him in Pennsylvania’s Senate Democratic primary.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday shows the fifth-term incumbent leading Rep. Joe Sestak 47 percent to 39 percent among likely voters.

Mr. Specter, a longtime Republican who switched his party affiliation a year ago, led 53 percent to 32 percent in the university’s April poll. Mr. Sestak is a second-term congressman from suburban Philadelphia.

Fourteen percent of voters say they’re undecided two weeks before the May 18 primary.

The survey of 930 Democrats was conducted in the week ending Sunday. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

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