- - Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Panel votes to extend surveillance law to 2015

The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to extend a wide-ranging surveillance law targeting foreigners overseas to mid-2015, but Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon says he will block the measure unless the public is told more about the law’s impact on people living in the United States.

In a closed-door session, the committee turned aside an amendment by Mr. Wyden and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado that would have directed the Justice Department’s inspector general to estimate how many people inside the U.S. have had their telephone calls and emails monitored by government agents under the surveillance law — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008.

The law, due to expire at the end of next year, would be extended to June 2015 if the committee action becomes law.


Perry brings potential donors to dinner table

AUSTIN — Texas Gov. Rick Perry is hosting a series of dinners with potential donors this week as he moves toward an announcement of his White House aspirations.

Mr. Perry has said he’ll announce by the end of this month whether or not he will seek the Republican nomination for president in 2012. In the meantime, he’s doing his homework to make up his mind.

Spokesman Mark Miner says the three meetings in Austin this week are intended to “determine whether they have the resources to fund an effective campaign.” Mr. Miner says the meetings are just part of the “decision-making process.”

Mr. Perry has kept a busy summer schedule despite having back surgery July 1. He’s had multiple meetings with fundraisers and made several trips to conservative events around the country.


Shutdown to continue in partisan standoff

A stalemate that has partially shut down the Federal Aviation Administration will continue into September. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Senate Democrats were unwilling to accept cuts in subsidies for rural air service.

House Republicans had demanded the $16.5 million in subsidy cuts as part of a bill to continue the FAA’s operating authority. Senate Democrats repeatedly tried and failed to pass their own bill without the cuts.

The FAA’s operating authority expired 11 days ago, as well as the authority of airlines to collect about $30 million a day in ticket taxes. If allowed to continue until Congress returns to work next month, the cost in lost revenue will be an estimated $1.2 billion.

Nearly 4,000 FAA employees have been laid off.


Politician resigns after nude photos go online

TRENTON — A politician who emailed a woman nude photos of himself that were later posted on a GOP activist’s website announced his resignation Tuesday and said he’ll consider all legal options to have the pictures taken down.

In an emailed statement, Cumberland County freeholder Louis Magazzu apologized to his friends, family and constituents but indicated that he thought he was being set up.

The 53-year-old Democratic lawyer, who’d been an elected county official since 1997, said he sent the photos to a woman with whom he corresponded online for several years and that she requested the photos. At least two of the photos revealed his crotch, two photos showed him fully dressed in a suit and a fifth showed him from the waist up, shirtless.

“I did not know that she was working with an avowed political enemy to distribute these pictures,” he said. “I have retained counsel to determine what laws may have been broken by the unauthorized distribution of those pictures.”

Mr. Magazzu has five children but said he’s been separated from his wife for about two years. His attorney, Rocco Cipparone, said the pictures were sent sometime around January.


Agency takes new look at phrase ‘gluten free’

The Food and Drug Administration is taking a new look at how to label foods “gluten free.”

The agency proposed standards in 2007 for labeling foods that don’t have the cereal protein but they were never finalized. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley and can inflame the small intestine in people who have celiac disease.

The FDA said Tuesday that it will seek new comments on those standards, which set a minimum amount of gluten that a product can contain to be labeled “gluten free.” Amounts of gluten in “gluten free” items now on store shelves can vary widely.

FDA estimates about 1 percent of the U.S. population has celiac disease.

Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor said the agency wants updated input on the standards from consumers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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