- - Sunday, August 28, 2011


Polar bear alarmist returns to science job

ANCHORAGE — A scientist whose observations of drowned polar bears spurred national publicity on climate change returned to work Friday at the federal agency that oversees offshore petroleum drilling.

Charles Monnett was suspended from his job at the Anchorage office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement after federal inspectors said he helped a polar bear researcher prepare a proposal even though he was the government official responsible for determining whether the proposal met minimum qualifications. He was away from his job for the past six weeks.

Advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said Mr. Monnett was targeted for his 2006 paper in a scientific journal on the drowned polar bears. The account made national news, helped to galvanize the movement against climate change and was cited in former Vice President Al Gore’s book and movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Michael Bromwich, the bureau’s director, has said that Mr. Monnett’s suspension was unrelated to the paper or to his scientific work.


Paul says Libya may be ‘another prize’ for al Qaeda

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul said Sunday that the apparent overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya does not justify U.S. involvement there and may end up delivering al Qaeda what he called “another prize.”

The congressman from Texas has made his mark in the presidential race as a strict libertarian who would scale back the role of the federal government in domestic and foreign affairs. A Gallup poll shows him in third place in the GOP race for the presidency.

Asked on “Fox News Sunday” whether getting rid of Col. Gadhafi was a good thing, Mr. Paul said it was but added that Col. Gadhafi’s departure did not mean the long-term result would be good for the United States. He said that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was also good, but that the long-term result in Iraq has not been a success for the U.S.

“We’ve delivered Iraq to the Iranians,” he said.

Mr. Paul said troops are already required to ensure order in Libya and that no one knows whom the rebels in Libya represent.

“We have no idea of what’s going to come out of Libya. I’m very skeptical,” he said.

Mr. Paul said U.S. foreign policy should be focused on national security. Instead, he said, its foreign policy has drifted toward picking dictators around the world.

He said he resents the power that has flowed to the executive branch and the judiciary.

“I want to obey the Constitution and follow its very great restrictions on the government,” he said.


Irene prompts extension of tax amnesty deadline

The Internal Revenue Service said it is extending the deadline for international tax cheats to come clean and take advantage of reduced penalties because of the effects of Hurricane Irene.

The program, announced in February, was to end Wednesday. The IRS said Friday that it would extend the deadline to Sept. 9 because of the massive hurricane that worked its way up the East Coast.

The program allows international tax evaders who come clean to avoid incarceration and pay reduced fines. The offer is similar to one the IRS made in 2009 that netted 15,000 tax evaders.

Under the program, people must pay back taxes, interest and reduced penalties.


Hatch doesn’t expect challenge from Matheson

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said he does not think Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat, will end up running against him next year.

Mr. Hatch told KTVX-TV during the weekend that the two men are good friends and he thinks the lone Democrat in the state’s Capitol Hill delegation will opt to run for re-election to a seventh term in the House.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz had considered challenging Mr. Hatch in a Republican primary but announced last week that he had decided against it.

A Salt Lake Tribune poll in mid-August suggested that a race between Mr. Hatch and Mr. Matheson would be competitive. It had the 77-year-old senator pulling 48 percent and Mr. Matheson 43 percent in the survey with an error margin of 4 percentage points.


Regulators say massage device poses danger

Doctors often recommend massage to relieve stress and manage pain and anxiety, but federal regulators are warning the public that the massages delivered by the ShoulderFlex Massager device could be fatal.

The Food and Drug Administration says one death and one near-strangulation have been reported after a necklace and article of clothing became caught in a rotating component of the device. In other cases, the FDA said, people’s hair became caught in the ShoulderFlex.

The agency urges people who own the device to “dispose of the device components separately so that the massager cannot be reassembled and used.”

Manufacturer King International has distributed nearly 12,000 of the devices since 2003 through retail stores and websites in the U.S. The company plans to recall the device, according to the FDA.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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