- - Sunday, February 13, 2011


First lady: Laughter key to marriage

Here’s Michelle Obama’s advice for couples this Valentine’s Day: Laugh with your partner.

The first lady says it’s what she and President Obama do, and it seems to be working. Their marriage, although tested throughout the years by his political ambitions — for the Illinois state Senate, the U.S. Senate and later president - is going on 19 years.

“I think, a lot of laughing,” the first lady said at a White House luncheon with reporters who asked about the Obamas’ union. “I think in our house we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and laughter is the best form of unity, I think, in a marriage.

“So we still find ways to have fun together, and a lot of it is private and personal. But we keep each other smiling, and that’s good,” she added.

It also helps that Mr. Obama is “very romantic.”

“He remembers dates, birthdays,” Mrs. Obama said last week on “Live! With Regis and Kelly.”

“He doesn’t forget a thing, even when I think he is. … I’ll have a little attitude. I give him a little attitude, but he always comes through.”

“Got to keep the romance alive, even in the White House,” she said.

As for Valentine’s Day on Monday, the first lady said her husband would do right by giving her jewelry.

“You can’t go wrong,” she said.

But Mrs. Obama also said they don’t fuss too much over the day that’s about celebrating love and affection between couples.

Last year, the Obamas spent Valentine’s Day at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

In 2009, their first year in the White House, they went home to Chicago and enjoyed a quiet dinner at Table 52, a traditional Southern restaurant owned by Art Smith, the former chef of Obama pal Oprah Winfrey.

How will they celebrate this year? Stay tuned.

“We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day because my birthday was the 17th [of January],” she told Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. She noted, too, that Christmas was just a few weeks before that.

“So by Feb. 14, we’re kind of tired,” Mrs. Obama said.


Schwarzenegger eyes return to acting

LOS ANGELES | After seven years in the California governor’s mansion, Arnold Schwarzenegger is returning to his old day job: acting.

Mr. Schwarzenegger wrote on Twitter that he’s ready to start considering film roles again.

The former governor tweeted Thursday night: “Exciting news. My friends at CAA have been asking me for 7 years when they can take offers seriously. Gave them the green light today.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s personal aide, Daniel Ketchell, confirmed the tweet Friday morning.

Before leading the state of California from 2003 to 2010, the former bodybuilder was the star of such blockbusters as the “Terminator” franchise and “True Lies” and comedies like “Kindergarten Cop” and “Twins.”


Mammography device approved

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first mammography device that generates 3-D images of the breast, potentially helping doctors spot more cancerous tumors.

The Selenia Dimensions System from Hologic Inc. offers both 2-D and 3-D X-ray images, providing additional viewpoints of the breast.

The FDA says the new system doubles the radiation exposure for patients, but also increases the accuracy of diagnosis. As a result, fewer women are expected to undergo additional scans.

“Physicians can now access this unique and innovative 3-D technology that could significantly enhance diagnosis and treatment approaches,” said Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s device division, in a statement.

The FDA approved the device based on two studies in which X-ray specialists demonstrated a 7 percent improvement in spotting cancerous tumors when viewing images from Hologic’s device, compared with traditional 2-D images. Such images can cause visibility problems owing to overlapping skin, which can hide tumors or create the appearance of tumors where there are none.

Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute. The institute recommends women ages 40 and older have a mammogram every one to two years.

The Selenia device is already approved in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Hologic is based in Bedford, Mass.


Feds widen probe into VW diesels

grows wider

The government’s highway safety agency expanded its investigation Friday into possible engine problems in 100,000 Volkswagen diesel cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received 160 complaints and field reports about engines stalling or losing power. The reports involve 2009 and 2010 model year Jettas and 2010 models of the Golf and the Audi A3 with TDI clean-diesel engines.

The safety agency said one minor crash has been reported related to a failure of the car’s high-pressure fuel pump. About half of the reports describe engines stalling, with many of them occurring at highway speeds in traffic.

Volkswagen told the government that the problem could be related to gasoline contamination from drivers pumping the wrong fuel. A VW spokeswoman said Friday it was taking the investigation seriously and cooperating with NHTSA.

The investigation began in August. NHTSA said it would upgrade its investigation to review the design of the high-pressure fuel pump and the reports of motorists using gasoline fuel in the diesel engines.


Panels asked to ID job-killing regulations

The House on Friday instructed its committees to hunt down and eliminate government regulations that cause job losses and prevent economic growth.

The debate, which consumed nine hours over two days, was held because Republicans wanted to speak during televised floor sessions. But the resolution had little practical effect, since House Republican leaders had already told committee chairmen to search for - and destroy - harmful rules imposed by unelected bureaucrats. Several committees already held public hearings to spotlight the issue.

Democrats, in vain, suggested the Republicans forgo the debate and simply pass the resolution since both parties would vote for it. However, Democrats did nothing to shorten the time — going to the microphone repeatedly to say the resolution was unnecessary. It passed 391-28.

Republicans and representatives of the business community have been especially critical of Environmental Protection Agency proposals to regulate greenhouse gases and boiler emissions, Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace rules, and proposals to carry out provisions of legislation to overhaul the health insurance system and financial institutions.


Lee won’t endorse Hatch in Utah primary

Tea party favorite Sen. Mike Lee says he won’t endorse fellow Utah Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s re-election to a seventh term in the 2012 GOP primary.

Mr. Lee said Friday on MSNBC that he would be neutral in the race until the primary is decided.

Mr. Lee’s decision was seen as a blow to Mr. Hatch, who is seeking tea party support for re-election and is expected to face a conservative primary challenge.

Mr. Lee was one of two candidates who drummed former Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican, out of office last year by besting him in a party convention vote, scoring a victory for the tea party movement.

Mr. Hatch was first elected to the Senate in 1976.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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